Law Enforcement Council:
~Prevention youth crime, education at youth institution need attention~
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten—The Law Enforcement Council (hereafter: the Council) is positive about the follow-up of the recommendations with regard to the adult probation and the partial follow-up of the recommendations with regard to the juvenile probation in the past years, but is concerned about the lack of follow-up of the recommendations with regard to the prevention of juvenile crime as well as specifically the education of minors at the judicial youth institution Miss Lalie Center.
The Council from 2012 up to and including May 2020 in total published 34 inspection reports about different subjects with accompanying recommendations. Half of these inspection reports were monitored through a review. The majority of these 17 review reports revealed the existence of a bottleneck in terms of the adequate adoption of recommendations.
In-depth, general review
Starting in 2020, and the year thereafter, the focus is on an in-depth, overall review of the follow-up of earlier recommendations, after which, based on the results, the progress of the outstanding recommendations will be regularly monitored starting in 2021. In light of a large number of recommendations, the overall review is being conducted in phases using sub-inspections after which a final report will follow.
The first sub-inspection, which today, April 20, was published by the Council, handles the degree of follow-up of the recommendations from 6 (review) reports: Juvenile Probation in Sint Maarten (2012), Juvenile Probation in Sint Maarten, A follow-up (2015), Adult Probation in Sint Maarten (2013), Adult Probation in Sint Maarten, a follow-up (2016),
Prevention of Juvenile Crime in Sint Maarten (2015) and Juvenile rehabilitation in Sint Maarten, baseline study at the Miss Lalie Center (2016).
The Council concluded at this time that with regard to youth probation, 10 of the 16 recommendations from 2012 – and reviewed in 2015 – were followed, five recommendations were partially followed, and one recommendation was not followed. “This means that in the past five years, a small change is evident in the desired direction based on the compliance with recommendations issued in the context of juvenile probation. As such, in 2020, the compliance rate increased slightly from 72% to 78%,” the Council wrote. The mentioned percentage is an indicator and not a definite norm, according to the Council.
With regard to the adult probation, the compliance percentage increased from 78% in 2016 to 94% in 2020. Of the 16 recommendations from 2013, 15 were followed and one was not. “The Foundation Judicial Institutions Windward Islands (SJIB) and its operations are developing in the desired direction such that, with one exception, all recommendations have been adopted. The Council expresses its appreciation to the SJIB and its employees for the progress and professionalism achieved.”
Youth rehabilitation center
In 2020, the Council carried out a review inspection of the extent of follow-up of the recommendations from the 2016 baseline of the youth rehabilitation center Miss Lalie Center. The state of affairs in 2020 is that of the eight recommendations, only one recommendation was followed, six recommendations were partially followed and one recommendation was not followed, representing a compliance percentage of 50%. The recommendation that was not followed concerned the introduction of a complete education program for the youngsters staying at the Miss Lalie Center. The Council is very concerned about that. Therefore, the Council is seeking specific attention of the Sint Maarten Minister of Justice for the education program for minors at the Miss Lalie Center.
Prevention youth crime
Things are not so well with the follow-up of recommendations from 2015 in the area of the prevention of youth crime: during the review inspection in 2020, the Council concluded that of the five recommendations only one recommendation was partially followed. This means that the compliance percentage is only 10%. The Council concluded that there is still no integral policy with specific attention for the prevention of youth crime. The Council hoped that the recommendations that were not followed, or that were partially followed, will be handled in the shortest term possible.
This first sub-inspection shows that of a total of 45 recommendations, 26 recommendations were fully implemented, 11 recommendations were partially implemented, and eight recommendations were not adopted. As such, across the board, it can be concluded that the majority of the recommendations were implemented. The Council concludes that the SJIB, and thus the adult probation, has in recent years significantly evolved in the manner intended by the recommendations. Unfortunately, this does not apply to the subject of juveniles. According to the Council, the state of affairs identified regarding juveniles is the result of broader challenges.
In a broader perspective, the Council noted that the Sint Maarten society is increasingly subject to change, characterized not only through progress but also by ever-increasing complexity, problems, flexibility, and interdependence. The preceding increasingly demands an integrated approach and this requires strong organizations that can contribute effectively to law enforcement not only individually but particularly as part of the chain. The subject of the youth, and more specifically the prevention of juvenile crime, is a good example of this, as it requires an integrated and, specifically, an inter-ministerial approach in order to be truly effective. What the Council sees, however, is that the organizations involved on the justice side of things are often not supported by having the necessary responsibilities, authorities, and tools (structurally) in place. The justice organizations involved do their best individually, but they always face a high degree of dependence on the Ministry of Justice which prevents them from achieving the intended result. As far as the follow-up of the recommendations is concerned, this means that the individual organizations often succeed in fulfilling a large portion of the recommendations, but also that the adoption of some of the recommendations is stagnant or cannot be started because it requires (first) action by or cooperation from management.
Lack of finances
A lack of funding and capacity is an often-cited reason why the recommendations have not been addressed. The Council is certainly aware that the country, and more specifically the Ministry of Justice, faces financial challenges. Although all recommendations (almost) always have financial consequences, the Council believes that to fulfill the recommendations, a distinction can be made by dividing them into recommendations that primarily require financial actions and recommendations that primarily require non-financial actions. According to the Council, such a distinction can not only create a better insight into the degree of follow-up of the recommendation, but it can also be beneficial.
~End press release~